For Customers, Safety Tops Convenience

This week’s Convenience Matters podcast looks at how store design is evolving during the pandemic.

June 10, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “New Normal Retail Store Design,” NACS hosts Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives, and Carolyn Schnare, director of strategic initiatives, discuss store layouts that incorporate social distancing with Joseph Bona, president and founding partner of Bona Design Lab.

“Right now, we’re in a scramble, and everyone’s trying to do the best we can. We’ve got painter’s tape on the floor telling us where to stand; we’ve got paper signs, etc.” Bona said. “As we take safety and hygiene into consideration and they become part of our everyday offer, I think consumers will look for this in most retail environments. It will be how we execute this to give people the confidence that we’re serious about safety.”

In the future, some of these modifications might become more integrated into stores. “Maybe queuing systems become a bit more focused and intentional,” Bona said. “If you think about convenience stores today and many legacy stores in particular, the checkout counter’s located right up against the front window [near the] front door [… creating] an area of congestion, which would be very difficult to maintain six-foot distance. If that pay point is moved farther back in the store with a queue system to guide and direct from the beginning on that trip, … then maybe a little bit of separation becomes a bit easier … and more organized. I think layout could serve a very important point going forward.”

Retailers have challenges to find ways to incorporate social distancing into their layout. “Think through queue lines in existing environments,” Bona said. He recommended looking at everything a retailer could move, like gondolas, and then considering a checkout system that could be placed into the current format.

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.